THE DRY is an Australian mystery thriller from 2020. It stars Eric Bana (CHOPPER) as Melbourne federal agent Aaron Falk, who gets wrapped up in some off-the-books mystery solving in his home town while on personal leave.
It’s arguably a neo-noir, but not in the sense of shadowy cinematography. It takes place mostly in the daytime, in rural Kiewarra, during a torturous drought. It hasn’t rained in almost a year, so this farming town is full of desperate people. Falk hasn’t been home in years, and only returns due to a brief, stern note in the mail telling him to be at the funeral of his childhood friend Luke (Martin Dingle-Wall, GUN SHY).
From the beginning it’s a bleak and uncomfortable tone. He saw in the newspaper that Luke died in a murder-suicide. Killed his wife, his kid, then himself (abandoning a baby). The funeral is for the whole family but some people are pretty upset about including the guy who killed them. And here’s Falk coming in from out of town just to honor Luke – he never met the wife or kid. (read the rest of this shit…)
KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is not your father’s King Arthur. Nor is it your John Boorman’s King Arthur, your Broadway’s King Arthur, your Disney’s King Arthur, your Jerry Zucker’s King Arthur or your Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur. It’s not even your 300‘s King Arthur, even though it opens with two armored, King Kong sized war elephants laying siege to Camelot. One of them swings a wrecking ball from his trunk, the other has a pyramid on his back. It spews flames like some kind of crude engine and contains the evil Mage King Mordred (Rob Knighton). That is until King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana in another Oh cool, it’s Eric Bana / Oh wait, he’s only gonna be in the beginning part, isn’t he? role) jumps aboard and introduces the inside of the sorcerer’s neck to Excalibur.
Yeah, there’s more crazy fantasy where that came from, or at least a couple more giant versions of animals (snake, bat), but mostly this stays true to the description Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur. Like he did with Sherlock Holmes, he recasts Arthur (Charlie Hunnam, GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS) as a streetwise brawler. He was sent away (like Superman) but in a boat (like Willow) to avoid being killed by his evil uncle Vortigern (Jude Law, eXistenZ), but also he witnesses his father being murdered (like Batman) and then grew up in a brothel (like Richard Pryor). In adulthood, we first meet him having just avenged some vikings who (at the very least) beat up one of the ladies. I’d like to think he’s just a loyal family member and not their pimp. (read the rest of this shit…)
DELIVER US FROM EVIL takes place in a horror movie Bronx. It’s all gloomy cinematography of wet streets at night, filthy, decrepit apartments, an ancient Latin invocation carved into walls or flesh. A malevolent demon monster or whatever is spookifying the place, so wherever our hero goes the power cuts out or the light bulbs burn out or they flicker like a strobelight (sometimes for an entire knife fight scene).
Also I think the filmatists are trying to play off of our primal fear of animals, so the Iraq War prologue features tarantulas, a snake and a bat. Another early scene involves a zoo with the animals loose (and lights out, of course) and the heroes get chased by a bunch of lions. Later a major piece of evidence is a security camera tape of a dude talking to a lion. And you got your usual cat scares like in all movies and also a crucified kitten and if you saw the trailer you’ll remember the scene of the hero’s daughter in bed at night getting spooked by her weird hooting owl doll. Sadly that James-Wan-esque scene climaxes with a jack-in-the-box with blood on its face. The ol’ evil clown standby. Boo.
Patrolling this world we have macho NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana). He was raised Catholic, sure, but doesn’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, etc. He’s renowned by his colleagues for catching a child killer with the first draft name “Marvin the Molester” and punching his face to death. He works too much his wife is pregnant she never sees him when he is home it’s like he’s not even there she never knows if she’s gonna get that call in the middle of the night he missed his daughter’s birthday she cried herself to sleep, all that. But somehow every case he gets connects to this weird supernatural thing with a mysterious guy who walks around acting scary with his Darth Maul hoodie up at all times even though he’s never in the numerous scenes where it’s pouring rain.
Sarchie also has a wiseass partner with seven deadly sins themed tattoos who carries two big knives that he uses to fight suspects instead of guns which in my opinion is not regulation. He’s played by Joel McHale from Community and the local Seattle sketch show that Bill Nye the Science Guy started on, Almost Live!. I know from an interview with director/co-writer Scott Derrickson that McHale has been his best friend for years and supposedly this character is more like the real him than anything he’s ever played. Apparently he really is obsessed with knives and maybe even wears a backwards baseball hat and sleeveless shirts all the time. Still, I had a hard time accepting the funny asshole guy from TV as this David Ayer type character, even when he tried to do an accent.
I always loved Ang Lee’s HULK. It was a blockbuster nobody else would’ve made, the Hulk movie that takes time for the Hulk to sit in the desert staring at the moss on the rocks. The weird one. The one that’s split between crazy action and subdued character drama. The one with Nick Nolte in mugshot mode as the villain, commanding a pack of mutant dogs, later turning into an electrical storm.
Well, I still love all that, but I’m disappointed to find that I don’t enjoy the movie quite as much 10 years later. At least not the pre-Hulk chunk of the thing. And I think it comes down to the very idea of it.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan from ATONEMENT and THE LOVELY BONES) is a young girl raised by a single dad (Eric CHOPPER Bana). She grew up away from the city and was home schooled, so she’s different from other kids. And by that I mean she grew up completely isolated in a remote cabin near the Arctic Circle and spent all her time training in combat, hunting and the speaking of multiple languages. Her dad is a rogue CIA guy but instead of doing freelance work like Seagal he just spends all his time growing a Unabomber beard and turning this bright little girl into a murder machine. She’s the girl Beatrix Kiddo hopes Vernita Green’s daughter never turns into. Some day when Hanna decides she’s ready she’ll literally flip a switch that will set off a war with the bitch (Cate Blanchett) that killed her mom. (read the rest of this shit…)
From the cover, LOVE THE BEAST looks like some indie movie starring Eric Bana, Jay Leno and Dr. Phil. What the hell? When did Bana enter Dolph’s co-starring-with-daytime-talk-show-hosts period? Well it’s not that, and it’s not THE COLLISION COURSE: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS. It’s actually a documentary about Bana’s love for the Ford Falcoln Coupe he’s had since he was young, and for the 4-day Targa race across the scenic roads of Tasmania. He directed it and it’s so clearly a labor of love that the enthusiasm is contagious.
Heavily narrated by Bana, but admirably low on talking head interviews, it shows Bana’s dedication over the years to his “beast” (nickname for the car) and his “mates” (Australian for “homeys” or “doggs”). One of his friends thinks it’s hilarious that he still works on that same damn car even though he has money to buy new ones. And it’s true – he might be the only Marvel super hero still driving his high school car. In ’05 though he decided to sink his money into rebuilding the whole thing into a top of the line race car, then raced it in the Targa for the first time since before he was Chopper. (read the rest of this shit…)
As a producer and an influence, Judd Apatow dominates the current comedy movie scene. His movies re-popularized the R-rated, filthy-mouthed comedy, they started a much-imitated improvised approach to comedy scenes, his TV shows and movies started or kickstarted the careers of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Siegel, Jonah Hill and others. In a few years he’s completely changed comedy movies, started a few cliches, and gained the inexplicable antagonism of talkbackers.
But just a couple years ago he was a hard-working, mostly ignored writer and producer whose name you’d see on stuff like The Larry Sanders Show, ZERO EFFECT and ANCHORMAN. He was a behind-the-scenes guy for Ben Stiller and Jim Carrey. He rewrote THE CABLE GUY from Chris Farley vehicle to the weird stalker comedy it became. Apparently he wrote Jim Carrey some jokes for the AFI Salute to Clint Eastwood. Nobody hated him back then. He was just another joke writer who had been roommates with Adam Sandler. (read the rest of this shit…)
Never thought they’d be able to pull a trick like this, but somehow they made STAR TREK cool. I’m not even sure if I can say cool again. I guess when the first couple movies came out it passed as cool. Anyway, this is some top grade movie magic here because it takes this pop culture phenomenon that has for generations been the #1 cliche nerd obsession and makes it into something that we, as a society, can share peacefully and enjoy together.
Going on opening night of course I saw it in a sold out crowd that must’ve contained some hardcore Trekkos (that’s what they prefer to be called – the word “Trekkies” was made up for the classic documentary and to true Trekkos is considered ten times worse than the n-word) but I never even felt a twinge of that nerdophobic uncomfortableness I felt when I went to see SERENITY. Midnight show in Imax might’ve been a different story, I don’t know, but my point is this thing is reaching far outside of the nerd audience. They said we weren’t ready for a black president, and they were wrong. They never said we weren’t ready for a cool STAR TREK, because nobody was even gonna argue that one. (read the rest of this shit…)
CHOPPER came out in 2000 and in the 8 years since I don’t think I’ve seen too many characters or performances as good as Eric Bana playing Mark Brandon Read, whose friends call him Chopper and he calls himself Uncle Chop Chop. I never heard of him before the movie but he’s a real Australian criminal who became a celebrity writing his memoirs while he was locked up. And the movie’s based on some of those.
It’s kind of a weird movie. It threw me at first because it doesn’t have much of a structure and it’s kind of a small story. Maybe I was expecting some kind of crime epic or something, but instead a bunch of stuff happens and then it ends. I prefer a tight story but it still had me. It was so captivating I ended up watching it again the next day. (read the rest of this shit…)
You know, MUNICH is almost the movie I was hoping SYRIANA would be. SYRIANA has alot to say about the complicated way the world works, but it doesn’t get you excited about it. You’re probaly not gonna be sitting on the edge of your seat. More likely you’ll be scratching your chin saying, “Interesting, interesting.” I’d rather see a movie that can be complex and political without sacrificing in the awesome department. A good balance of substance and badass. And that’s what this is.
Okay so maybe MUNICH isn’t as true to life as SYRIANA (in fact, some people think the real guy it’s based on made up the whole story and never worked for Mossad) but it sure is a more entertaining movie. Eric Bana (winner of the secret, recently declassified 2001 lead badass outlaw award for CHOPPER) plays Avner, a small time Israeli agent personally chosen by the prime minister to lead a team of assassins to kill 11 people believed to be involved in the planning of the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. (read the rest of this shit…)
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE SHIT OUT OF VERN & OUTLAWVERN.COM
if that's your thing:
Toss me a couple bucks a month, support the good shit, also get access to a bunch of exclusive writing. This is my primary source of writing money that has allowed me to cut down to part time at the day job. Thank you!
2. Buy my books from your local bookseller or somebody